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Throughout the 20th Century, alligator products were both popular and fashionable. But such popularity led to the alligators drastic decrease in numbers.
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In addition to hunting, pollution and development pushed the alligator to the brink of extinction as their natural habitat was threatened. Finally in 1967, the Federal government listed the American Alligator as an endangered species.
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With federal protection in place, Florida law enforcement officers began actively prosecuting poachers and others who profited from the hunting of alligators.
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In order to track the progress and health of alligators, as well as to better understand them, many agencies began to actively research and monitor alligators.
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By the mid 1970s, the protection of alligators had already proved successful. In 1976, Executive Director of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission Earl Frye recommended allowing limited harvesting of alligators.
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By the late 1980s, alligators has bounced back. Meanwhile, their habitat continued to decline, which led to increasing encounters between humans and alligators. These encounters sometime proved deadly, such as at Wakulla Springs when a diver was fatally attacked by the alligator pictured here.
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In 1987, the alligator was pronounced fully recovered by both state and federal authorities. The success of the alligator protection program stands as one of the greatest success stories of proactive nature management. The alligator also lives on in the popular imagination.